libecchio
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+1

libecchio reviewed on 21 Jul 2011
This is an essential application. There have been (and are) quite a few pretenders, but the sheer depth of LaunchBar wins in the end. For example, it is the only launcher I know which understands NeoOffice files; with the others, I can only use the launcher to run NeoOffice then am obliged to find the file myself from within the application, which rather defeats having the launcher in the first place ...

My only reservation is that some of the inbuilt understanding of how specific applications store data (presumably in something difficult to parse by normal means) is well out-of-date. For example, the non-Apple email applications supported are Eudora, Entourage, Outlook Express and Mailsmith; all of those are either moribund or no longer developed. Similarly, some browsers (e.g. Opera) are not supported in their latest versions, and a number of supported search engines are again moribund or even non-existent (e.g. Cuil).

However, that reservation is relatively minor; the handling of files, folders, services and other Apple facilities is perfect.
[Version 5.1.3]



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+2

libecchio reviewed on 10 Jul 2011
After my previous problems, I went back to Synk after a time, and the previous reviews are superseded. All the issues I noted have been worked out, and the application is now stable, predictable and effective - it produces full-disk backups with no problem now and I will be using it to prepare my bootable backups for Lion.

I still do think a few of the features in 6.x could have been carried across, and that the price is a bit high, but the second is not so much of an issue now that the application is solid.
[Version 7.0.10]



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+1

libecchio reviewed on 11 Dec 2010
I have used Synk Pro successfully since v5, and was looking forward to v7. Unfortunately, I feel that backward steps have been taken. I see what the author is trying to do with v7 - hide complexity from the user interface and make all backups continuous on attaching a backup disk without there being a trigger - but, as often happens, 'simplification' has introduced confusion.

Most seriously, a whole disk backup always shows 'conflict in file versions' warnings and never appears to complete because some applications continually update files in non-temporary folders; ironically, Backblaze is a prime culprit. I was able to set up a rule to stop these irrelevant conflicts from showing, but a beginner could be excused for thinking that there was something fundamentally wrong.

Also, the list of files being backed up either scrolls madly (if file activity and issues are turned on) or shows little if anything of what is happening (if issues only are turned on); nowhere is there even a rough indication of how much of the backup has completed. That the focus of the list moved from the folder level (v6) to the file level (v7) is surely a mistake, because there is generally too much irrelevant information shown (how often do you need to see the details of every file backed up?) and, for some reason, a large list occasionally becomes 'stuck' well away from the files being backed up, which again gives the impression that nothing is happening although the backup drive light is flashing. The Menu Bar item is static; granted, the Time Machine animation might not mean much, but at least it shows something is happening!

All that said, the backups are sound ... but there is too much detail and not enough of a summary shown while getting there.
[Version 7.0]


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+78
libecchio replied on 13 Dec 2010
To add to the previous review ... the menu bar item is static on full disk backups but gives an indication of progress on file backups, although only that something is happening.

I also note that some options appear to have been taken away in v7 (e.g. suspend/shut down on backup completion), possibly because the concept that a backup definitively completes is not really relevant any more.

Although the user interface needs work I must say that the concept of taking away user interaction and tightly tying the backup details to the hardware used to make the backup (so plugging in the hardware results in everything happening automatically) is growing on me ...
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+6
libecchio commented on 17 Oct 2010
In the old POP3 days I used Mailsmith. It never made the transition to IMAP and gradually faded away; at last, there is an IMAP equivalent in MailMate. In fact, it is better than an equivalent; the design is plainly not carrying any baggage from other platforms, from before OS X or from POP3 clients, and has a host of features I have never seen anywhere elsewhere. (I am using fastmail.fm IMAP).

In summary, Mailsmith has a clean, text-based interface; it is effectively instant, with no delays I can see even on my mailbox of 5,000 messages; it is easy to see the status of all IMAP folders (unlike with many other clients, which attempt to be 'clever' by hiding things and sometimes even sneak in their own folders); and, most importantly, it has a phenomenal array of filtering, statistics and views, which may be combined and saved as Smart Folders. My favourite is "Correspondence", which picks out all email from your current correspondent and lists it in a separate pane ... instantly.

A surprise is that Preferences has few options; this is because preferences are intrinsic to the UI. For example, to change the font anywhere Format | Show Fonts from the Menu Bar, if enabled, pops up the standard font chooser. That is much more elegant than the usual overwritten Preferences dialog!

I also note that, on first run, MailMate spotted my Mail.app IMAP settings, prompted for import, then got to work without fuss.

Drawbacks are few. The big one (unless I am missing something) is that there is no filtering out of images in HTML mail. This meant that Little Snitch kept intruding until I put a blanket block on ports 80 and 443. There is also no scripting although, given the richness of methods for manipulating mail, I doubt whether it is actually needed.

MailMate is expensive for those who don't use email much. Although I am now one of those, I am willing to wait for a couple more beta versions and then put down the cash. The author should be rewarded for having the courage to start from scratch.
[Version 0.9.4]



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libecchio commented on 21 Mar 2010
Since my last review Socialite has matured considerably - most of the glitches have been ironed out and it is now a capable Google News and Twitter reader (I don't use the other services); the second, in particular, has come on a long way.

However, it is still marred by trivial UI errors which would be easy to fix. For example:

Google Reader - the sorting of feeds appears to be random, and the top item in the popup menu against a feed is "Unsubscribe", which makes it depressingly easy to unsubscribe from a feed by accident.

Twitter - the Expand URLs option is per-tweet, which is not much help when you regularly receive hundreds of tweets.

Also, the support for protocols and third-party applications could do with expansion; there is Instapaper but no ReadItLater, for example, and the very useful Notes facility in Google Reader is not supported.
[Version 1.0.5]



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+6
libecchio commented on 01 Nov 2009
It's a pity that the popular belief is that Google Reader synchronisation to Mac desktop means NetNewsWire because Gruml is, in many ways, a better implementation of that task (as is Socialite, which is not free).

All of the special items in the Google News Web interface (starring, liking, sharing etc.) are implemented via Your Stuff and there is much closer integration with other social networks via toolbar buttons; one click to send to Instapaper, for example. NNW is lagging in those respects.

Even as a basic three-pane reader, ignoring the Google News features, Gruml is excellent; fast synchronisation, no clutter, simple, well-designed news pane styles. And the author is most responsive to requests and bug reports; the only real omission I can think of (adding an optional summary of the article in the article list) is an enhancement down for the next beta, 0.9.14.
[Version 0.9.13.184]



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libecchio commented on 06 Oct 2009
It's a great pity Vektor3 appears to be no longer updated - the copy I downloaded from Schubert IT is not even a Universal Binary - because the user interface is the best by a mile.

I just had a look at the new Shredder Chess 4, saw the same old clunky Java behaviour, and decided not to put forward my upgrade fee. As a reasonably good player, no more, I am willing to trade off a lot of the chess engine's playing strength for a proper OS X application!
[Version 3.2.2]



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libecchio commented on 26 Sep 2009
Just to completely contradict the last review, I synchronised 16,000 songs from an iPod to a newly rebuilt Mac (OS X 10.6.1, iTunes 9.0.1) with only one trivial error; a Composer field was not brought across in half a dozen tracks.

There were a couple of problems, although I suspect they are down to iTunes rather than PodWorks:

1. The sync took a few attempts to get going - it froze after 20 or 30 songs the first couple of times;

2. Once the sync had completed, iTunes decided to recognise the iPod it had just received the files from as a "new iPod" and synchronised everything back to it!

I cannot fault PodWorks really; synchronising seems to be a difficult problem to crack in general and handling 16,000 files almost flawlessly is impressive. I tried a couple of similar applications, but they both froze repeatedly at the same place and could not be coaxed into continuing.
[Version 2.9.6]



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+4
libecchio commented on 19 Jul 2009
I use only part of the functionality (RSS, Google Reader, Twitter). That said ...

EventBox is the only OS X feed reader I have found that synchronises with Google Reader - perfectly, as it turns out - and it is elegantly done. There are lots of subtle but meaningful graphic effects, hotkeys for everything, and many alert options - sound, Growl, a well-designed heads-up (white on black) display, highlights in the Dock, a Menu Bar item ... most of which can be set for all feeds or per-feed.

My only reservation is that the application doesn't have its own browser; the Web pages linked to feeds open in the default Web browser. It would be nice to have some sort of embedded interface as a space-saver on a laptop screen.

I will not be going back to Web interfaces; EventBox is faster, better-looking, easier to use and more tweakable, and $15 is not much for what it offers.
[Version 1.0r580]



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libecchio commented on 05 Jul 2009
I used to use KeePassX to keep my licences. It is an excellent general encryption program, but was starting to become unwieldy and the difference in switching to LicenseKeeper is huge - the sheer slickness of capturing a licence is great.

Press Import Application and select it from the Finder to create the basics (database entry, name, icon, version number etc.), then select the corresponding registration email in Entourage and press Attach Email. The email contents are parsed and usually put into the various fields (registration name, registration email, product key etc.), including attachments as separate files; that doesn't always work, because there is no standard format for registration emails, but I found there was no further typing required about 80% of the time. So a registration is usually captured in two mouse clicks and, even better, the product key is automatically pasted to the clipboard.

If there is no email, the application details may be typed directly into the form, which is well designed (a big box for serial number on the front tab, so no constraints on its format).

I created a database with about 40 entries in half an hour, then exported it (XML plus encrypted attachments) to DropBox. Job done, and far more accurately than before; spending a little money on a dedicated application was money well spent.
[Version 1.4.8]



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